The Astros finally have the quality young starting pitching depth that they have been lacking for several years. The starting rotations at all levels of the organization look to be drastically improved next season. Do the Astros finally have that good problem to have of having too much starting pitching? You can’t call them the Atlanta Braves yet, but you also can’t ignore the depth that has been stockpiled recently. Guys like Henry Sosa and Lucas Harrell may not end up being everyday starters, but they have definitely proved that they have earned the right to be given a chance and deserve to be in the majors. Below I have worked the rotations from the top down just to see how the rotations will look at the AA level and higher next season.
If no trades are made this offseason then the 2012 Houston Astros starting rotation would probably look like this:
1.) Brett Myers
2.) Wandy Rodriguez
3.) Bud Norris
4.) JA Happ
5.) Jordan Lyles
This is seemingly the same rotation that the Astros had for the majority of this season. It’s possible that Lyles or Happ could be replaced with Lucas Harrell or Henry Sosa, but most likely this would be the starting rotation. If Happ rebounds, Myers shows some positive regression, and Lyles improves upon his rookie campaign then this could be a solid rotation. In this scenario the backup options or depth for the big league club are Henry Sosa, Lucas Harrell, Aneury Rodriguez, and Dallas Keuchel. The Astros would have the most quality depth on the big league club with this scenario.
If both Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers are traded this offseason then the 2012 starting rotation would probably look like this:
1.) Bud Norris
2.) JA Happ
3.) Jordan Lyles
4.) Henry Sosa
5.) Lucas Harrell
There’s a good possibility that Wandy Rodriguez would get traded in the offseason, but Myers seems unlikely to be moved. However, this scenario looks at what the rotation would be like if both veterans were to be traded. This rotation would carry far more question marks as JA Happ would still have to rebound, Jordan Lyles is still young and expected to take some lumps, and Lucas Harrell and Henry Sosa are unknown commodities. This rotation would be significantly younger, and would at the very least be interesting to watch. The depth options in this scenario would be Aneury Rodriguez, Dallas Keuchel, Paul Clemens, and Brett Oberholtzer. Given the depth here, if an injury or ineffectiveness were to occur then things could get pretty rough in Houston for the 2012 season. Xavier Cedeno could be another intriguing name to add to this list if the Astros chose to bring him back.
Oklahoma City Redhawks
If scenario 1 plays out, then the RedHawks rotation would look like this:
1.) Henry Sosa
2.) Lucas Harrell
3.) Aneury Rodriguez
4.) Paul Clemens
5.) Brett Oberholtzer / Dallas Keuchel
This would be a solid AAA rotation, but you could make the argument that both Brett Oberholtzer and Dallas Keuchel deserve to be in Oklahoma City’s starting rotation next year. It’s possible that the Astros would start Aneury Rodriguez in AA if they chose not to keep him on the big league club as a reliever, but given that he just spent the year with the Astros it would make more sense for him to be in Oklahoma City.
If scenario 2 plays out, then the RedHawks rotation would look like this:
1.) Aneury Rodriguez
2.) Dallas Keuchel
3.) Paul Clemens
4.) Brett Oberholtzer
This would still be a solid rotation for the RedHawks, but it does leave more question marks for the 5th spot in the rotation. This would be a situation where re-signing Xavier Cedeno would definitely pay off.
Corpus Christi Hooks
If scenario 1 plays out, then the Hooks rotation would look like this:
1.) Dallas Keuchel / Aneury Rodriguez
2.) Jarred Cosart
3.) Ross Seaton
4.) Jose Cisnero
5.) Jake Buchanan
In this case both Andrew Robinson and Robert Donovan, 2 guys who are probably deserving of being promoted to the next level and getting out of Lancaster are the odd men out. Dallas Keuchel has succeeded at this level and would probably have nothing left to prove, but with the depth of rotation candidates he would probably be the odd man out of the Oklahoma City rotation.
If scenario 2 plays out then this would be how the rotation would look:
1.) Jared Cosart
2.) Ross Seaton
3.) Jose Cisnero
4.) Jake Buchanan
5.) Andrew Robinson / Robert Donovan
In this case only one of Andrew Robinson or Robert Donovan would be the odd man out. Both have posted very similar numbers this season, and could both make a strong case for the spot.
Looking at the past rotations at all levels the last couple of years, it is easy to see the improvements made, and that the Astros are on the right path to building depth in their system. I personally would feel more comfortable if Scenario 1 played out given the overall depth, but would probably be more excited to see Scenario 2 take place. The most likely outcome will be that Wandy gets traded and Myers remains on the team. This would mean that the Astros would have 1 of Lucas Harrell or Henry Sosa serving in Oklahoma City’s rotation as depth, and everyone else would get bumped down a spot.